Have you ever noticed that people gather around a campfire like moths congregate by a lightbulb? It makes sense when we consider what a controlled fire offers: light, the ability to cook food, and fellowship.
Thinking of these attributes of a campfire, I find it really interesting that God often portrays Himself and His Holy Spirit as a fire (Exodus 3:2-4, Acts 2:2-4).
We read about the Israelites receiving light and directional guidance on their journey from a pillar of fire (Exodus 13:21). Similarly, when far from city lights, a campfire provides welcome light. With the light from a fire, you can mill about without tripping, you can see other faces, and can even have enough light to read. Much like shedding physical light, God’s Spirit can guide us (John 16:13).
When I was growing up, my family did some camping with a tent, our car nearby, and of course, a campfire to cook on (okay, so we also had a propane-powered Coleman stove for rainy nights). I thought this was “normal camp cooking.” Then I met my husband, a minimalist backpacker, who scoffed at campfires. He said if we were really camping in the backcountry, abiding by the Leave No Trace code of ethics, we would never consider having a fire. Furthermore (he’d shake his head), the risk of wildfire was too great. I had much to learn. Enter the backpacking stove.
The thing is, whether you stoke a blazing campfire or boil two cups of water over a teensy backpacking stove, you still need fire to cook. Yes, our diets should consist largely of fresh fruits and vegetables (but try to convince a hardcore backpacker to haul fresh produce in an enclosed pack in the sun all day), but some foods, like rice, are way better cooked than uncooked. So we make fire. It’s an interesting parallel that God, Christ and the Holy Spirit, which are often portrayed as fire, provide us with spiritual food (John 6:35).
As I mentioned in the introduction, and you’ve probably noticed yourself, a surefire (no pun intended) way to gather a group of people is to light a campfire. I’ve even seen complete strangers in town walk out of their way just to meet the people who are enjoying the evening with a campfire. Kids, grownups, old and new friends – fires bring people together. God wants us to stick together, to fellowship, with other Christians (Heb 10:25, Prov 27:17).
For these reasons, I can’t help but think of a campfire without also thinking about God, Christ and the Holy Spirit. Are there any other physical and spiritual parallels you see? Maybe physical and spiritual warmth? How about protection from predators and spiritual protection from Satan? Please post your positive comments below.